WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ADAM THIRLWELL
Sensational, dramatic, packed with rich excitement and filled with the sweep and violence of human passions, Les Miserables is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told. It is a novel peopled by colourful characters from the nineteenth-century Parisian underworld; the street children, the prostitutes and the criminals. In telling the story of escaped convict Jean Valjean, and his efforts to reform his ways and care for the little orphan girl he rescues from a life of cruelty, Victor Hugo drew attention to the plight of the poor and oppressed. Les Miserables is a masterful detective story, a comic and tragic story of romance and revolution and, ultimately, a tale of redemption and hope.
Victor-Marie Hugo was born on 26 February 1802 at Besancon, where his father, an officer under Napoleon, was stationed. After his parents separated in 1812, Hugo lived in Paris with his mother and brothers. At twenty he married Adele Foucher and published his first poetry collection. Hugo was elected to the Academie Francaise in 1841. The accidental death two years later of his eldest daughter and her husband devastated him and marked the end of his first literary period. By then politics had become central to his life. Though he was a Royalist in his youth, his views became increasingly liberal after the July revolution of 1830. He initially supported Louis Napoleon, but turned against him after being denied a role in government following the coup d'etat of 1851 and was forced into exile in Brussels and Jersey. After the fall of the Second Empire in 1870, Hugo returned to France and was re-elected to the National Assembly, and then to the Senate. Hugo is celebrated as a politician, a social campaigner, a poet and a novelist. His most famous works include Notre Dame de Paris (1831) and Les Miserables (1862). Victor Hugo died on 22 May 1885 and his state funeral was attended by thousands of mourners. Julie Rose lives in Sydney and is the highly regarded translator of more than a dozen works, including an acclaimed version of Racine's Phedre as well as works by Paul Virilio, Jacques Ranciere, Chantal Thomas, and many others.